United States calls off search for missing suspected smuggling vessel with 20 people

After searching an area of over 17,000 square miles in over 80 hours the United States Coast Guard called off search of a missing boat with an estimated 20 people aboard between the Bahamas and Florida in the North Atlantic Ocean.

A 29-foot blue and white Mako Cuddy Cabin departed Bimini on Monday bound for Lake Worth Beach, but Bahamian authorities reported it missing and sought the Coast Guard’s help.

Coast Guard air and sea crews and aircraft from Patrick Air Force base in Brevard County were assisting the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association with the search.

There was no signal received from an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon either, said Petty Officer Jose Hernandez.

“When it touches the water or if it’s activated in an emergency it would send us the location of that [vessel],” he said. “It makes it a lot easier for us to deploy to that location.”

The disappearance without a trace prompted speculation that it may be a smuggling vessel that is trying to avoid detection, but that does not matter to the Coast Guard.

“We don’t care if they’re illegals or drug trafficking,” Hernandez said. “We don’t want any lives lost at sea.”